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Alex Baer

Hopalong Banshee

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It's the Age of Superheroes, among other burdensome identifiers of today.

(Such titles are the darlings of media and marketing, and are among the clusters and clutter of many clumsy, clunky ways of trying to figure out What On Earth is Happening Right Now, I realize, but it's better than the Age of Ignorance and Arrogance, as titles go -- GOP- and Trumpian-fandom and other related Fox-like IQ-slides aside.)

Perhaps superhero-dom is all the rage because all our problems seem so big, so unresolvable, so permanent, and so unyielding to our constant, hapless tinkering. Maybe it's just the mathematical result and automatic fun which comes from unchecked population increase where, thanks to sheer body-count growth, we still have the same basic percentage of lunatics, fools, morons, and village idiots, but -- Hey! -- where did all YOU yahoos come from? we say.

(Happened quickly, didn't it?  Yeah, it always does, when you're not paying attention, otherwise it wouldn't be very sneaky or stealthy, so says one of my new superheroes, Major Oblivion -- a longtime chum of Captain Obvious and General Mayhem.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:54 Read more...

... And Now, th' Snooze

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Thinking can be dangerous -- thoughts can go anywhere.  Maybe that is why so little thinking is done any longer by the masses.

This is especially true, given the vast array of predigested information sources available to the various publics which still clot and cling together, despite our vast differences, as we start to exit our country's Terrible Twos, as the perspective of world history goes.

Our brains now scurry and scramble for their allotment of junk-food information, whether fresh or stale, direct from the squeeze-tubes of right wing think tanks, from the boiling vats of corporately-cooked fodder, from the overstuffed pork barrels of stout political earmarks.

The watchdog press has been harnessed, debarked, un-fanged, and reduced to handout journalism, repeating whatever overly-massaged, HD-digitized, pre-uploaded 3D press release kits are available for filing fresh, authentic -- and most of all, entertaining -- reporting.

Truth is what you make it, my friends, depending on what you want to hear, depending on which of the many propaganda channels most draws your self-identification, your perceived alliance, calls to your peer group, educational base, patience threshold, ignorance quotient, income cluster, and relaxation rating.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2016 22:49 Read more...

Survivor's Gilt

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It's a wonderful thing, when stuff normally taken for granted goes missing for a bit, then pops back up, reasserts itself, and gets appreciation flowing in your veins again.

Like gravity.

Toward the end of the end of my month-long experimentation with colds, flus, and pneumonia-wannabes, I was thrilled when all those sumpy pockets and pools of rippling gravity faded from the swooping and swerving, eerily unfamiliarly, looking-through-binoculars-backwards, miles-long hallway between bed and bath -- into the Great Beyond, where all the cold and flu products danced in a long conga line, like a 1950s theater intermission moment, when all the popcorn, drinks, and candy bars danced themselves out into the lobby for your happy, refreshing treat.

Those transparent pockets of flexible gravity would ripple like rings in pools of water, but only at the perfect bodily temperature pushing into triple digits -- just as snow will only squeak underfoot at just the right temp,  no warmer and no cooler.  Those patches of sneering hallway gravity were unpredictable, alternating between slick and snide.

Now that I am back in The Tricky World of the Vertical, it's nice to know there's no need to be on lookout for malleable wells and sprouting fluctuations of variable gravity, ready to make you involuntarily lurch and sway.

(Here, I am tempted to ponder the delightfully high value a tavern named The Lurch & Sway might bring in general terms, located anywhere at all, let alone if established in Iowa and New Hampshire, where such unplanned banana-split ballet motions, come balloting time, are painfully traditional.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 19:09 Read more...

The Flue Flu: Two Dox to Open

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Despite my flu shot, I've gotten the flu anyway.  The irony is not lost on me, but it's a complex vintage, and one not easily achieved or savored.  For example, part of me wants to feel I have finally gotten my money's worth in a modern-day transaction.

So much for theory, where the shot is supposed to give you the flu -- sort of -- in order to build up some immunity to the flu.  Well, sure.  Got it.

But,  I'm feeling on the wrong end of an old punchline, where this guy in a joke walks in to a drug store and asks, "Have you got anything for a headache?" and the pharmacist whacks him on the head with an SUV-sized wooden mallet.

Only, in my version of the joke, which is set in current-day America, and involves many players, major political parties will collide, generations of wealth will be shed, and the powerful will melt down their long-standing base over the intricacies of the details which fascinate them:  Who built and provided the mallet?  Who were the suppliers and contractors?  What form of manufacture and transportation was used? What were the raw materials?  Was anyone consulted along the way?  Who did the paperwork?  Who was employed, and where?  And, of utmost importance, of course, where there any emails involved?

And so on.

Then, we'd take a trillion dollars of The People's money -- representing a considerable amount of their labor -- and burn it, right in the well of the combined Congress, in a show of who and what is truly important in this country, despite official documents and statements, and then we'd all take the Nineteen Millionth consecutive vote -- hey, they're only a few hundred million dollars vote, you know -- regarding how and and when and where and under what considerations and conditions might The People be entrusted with the dispensing and receiving of Mallet Care.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 January 2016 22:03 Read more...

Ides and Go Seek

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'Tis the time of the wild-eyed Bewilderbeast which is nearly upon us, boys and girls -- thick as broomstick'd witches on candy bags, heavy as depleted uranium foil strewn on scrawny, screw-together tannenbaums.

You know where we are, calendar-wise:  It's that time of the year in which Life makes even less sense than usual, in an American post-Summer simmer and in a pre-sprung Spring.  Here we are, the lull between the Equinoxes -- the seasonal gap between locked and unlocked, as Vonnegut's sense of season would have it.  It is neither Fall nor Winter, more Hypnotic Lockdown than anything -- making it Hypdown or Locknotic, I suppose.  Up to you.

We're in the No-Sanity Zone betwixt the tart, fictional, Slack-jawed, Sourpussed War on KrissMuss and the all-too-real, tempting jar of Trick-or-Treat Sweetmeats and Jaw-breaker Bribes.

We always worry and fear the wrong things here, in this country.  Halloween has us cringing at thoughts of chain-saw killers and headless horsepersons -- but, right now, and all year long, there are headless Congresspersons taking chain-saws to national life support systems, and pulling the plug on keeping infrastructure alive.

Who knows?  We might even vote another 40 or 50 times to repeal a starting effort at health care for citizens, at pointless costs of hundreds of millions of dollars.  We might even focus another dozen empty and vacuous hearings, and another hundred thousand pounds of baseless rage, against women's health care.  Or, maybe, Poe's pale blue eye of the Tell-Tale Heart, lately of the GOP, will descend its unseeing gaze on concerns of global climate change, and House Republicans will again chase science out of its Science Committees, hoping instead to place religion in all public classrooms, and Ten Commandment monoliths in every public space larger than a two-dollar bill.

Who knows what will happen when the ice-cold violin shrieks from Psycho start up again as marching soundtracks for the Republican faithful?

It's a strange season, all right.  All quicksand and quicksilver.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 13:04 Read more...

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